“We were made for each other, right?”
She stops humming and looks around at the question. I feel her eyes searching mine, but I just keep looking up at the stars, at the moon, on my back with my neck resting on my sleeping roll.
Before us, the valley holds its breath and the peaks loom. They loom tall. Gingersnap’s camera clicks on its timer, marking another hour we’ve spent here in the cradle of the mountains, under Selene’s sky.
“You know we were made for each other, Silver,” she says. “Have you ever doubted it?”
“No,” I say truthfully. “Have you?”
“No. Not once I realised I loved you.”
“‘Love’.” I whisper it under my breath. “Does love last forever?”
Snaps walks over to me and looks down at me, forcing me to meet her eyes. “What kind of question is that?”
“I’ve been thinking about ‘forever’, lately. I don’t know if we’re really here forever, and I don’t really trust Celestia to be honest about it. But even if it’s just… close to forever, does love last that long? Can ponies really be together forever? Even ones who were made for each other?”
My soulmate sits down beside me and looks up at the sky, too, humming a little. “I guess for you ‘forever’ is still a novelty. I’ve never thought about it very hard. But…” she pauses, looking down at me once more. “Yes. I think ponies who were made for each other can stay together forever.”
“What if we break each other’s hearts?” The words rush out of me before I really know what I’m saying. It’s not uncommon for me. I blink and sigh a little at myself.
But Gingersnap almost giggles. “Are you planning on breaking my heart?”
“No! I just… I don’t know. Forever is a long time. Forever. Isn’t it likely to happen eventually? Celestia couldn’t stop something like that without messing with our minds. And I don’t want her to, still.”
“I don’t think it’s likely at all,” Snaps counters. “That’s like saying that over a long enough time period you’re bound to be struck by lightning. If you never go out in a storm, though, it just… isn’t true.”
I mull over this. “I see what you mean.”
We continue to observe the night. It is definitely beautiful. The mountains give it a sense of… reality. Somehow, it’s not just a backdrop. The mountaintops really do look like they’re almost touching the sky.
When Gingersnap finishes with the photos her camera is taking every hour, the result will be a single image showing the moon moving across the sky, across the mountain range.
I can’t wait to see it.
“Is this something you really worry about?” She asks it casually, but I know her well enough to sense that it’s an important question.
I think before answering. “Sometimes it is, yeah. I feel like the luckiest pony in the world to have met you. The idea of what we have going away is… awful. And I worry about ‘forever’.” I add in a mumble, “Never had to worry about decades before Equestria, let alone forever.”
“Silver, I love you. I won’t break your heart, and I believe that you won’t break mine. We face eternity together. Okay?”
Her words ignite that feeling in my chest, that feeling of pure love that makes me want to laugh and cry and melt. It only intensifies when her wing gently caresses the back of my head, and I roll over and pull myself into a sitting position.
We sit there side by side, leaning into each other, my hoof on hers and her wing on my back, silently looking at the mysterious peaks, so distant and yet so strangely close.
We sit there until the camera clicks again. Then I yawn.
“You sure you don’t care if I sleep a little?” I ask.
She gives me an amused smile. “I’m sure.”
“Mmkay. Only for a ‘lil bit. All that magic earlier really took it out of me.” I roll out my bedroll and get comfortable.
Gingersnap’s gentle humming is all I hear as I drift off to sleep.
I try to open the door up to the office, but it’s locked. But… my magic is the key. It shouldn’t be locked. I try again, but it doesn’t budge.
I rattle the handle, and it has no effect.
I look around the studio. It’s dark. The lights are off. What was I… doing here? I’d have to go through the pub apartment to get upstairs.
I leave the studio, setting off the little bell as always, and before I know it I’m walking into the Silver Sword. Past the few patrons and through the door my magic does open, up the stairs to find myself in our sitting room.
Something is wrong.
I’m filled with dread because
The door is gone
There’s no way into the office that was Snaps’ apartment
And I just know without calling out that she isn’t here, this place is empty and it’s just me
I can’t smell her at all
This is wrong—
I’m rushing down the stairs, out of the pub, into the street. I run past the park, up to the studio once more, and enter with that same jingle.
The door still won’t open for me. I pick up a hoof to knock—
And she’s there, opening the door, regarding me cooly. Gingersnap, the pony I love. But that same dread is there, that same knowledge that something is off—
“Silver Star. This is my place. Don’t try to get in.”
I’m just filled with confusion. Isn’t it ours? “Snaps, I… where did the portal door go? Why is—”
“Gone,” she says with a shake of the head. “I decided I can’t handle… this. I need my own space. Living with you is too hard.”
I can’t even respond. The dread that gripped me before has morphed from a sort of anxiety to something far worse. I almost can’t breathe. I’m being crushed.
“I still want to be friends,” she continues. “I love you as a friend. But that’s all. I need to have my own place to live,” she repeats, “and I can’t share it with you. I’m sorry.”
The feeling intensifies; it blooms into something torturous
I’m being torn
disembowelled and crushed—
Then she smiles at me. For a fraction of a moment it’s like nothing has changed but
“You’re still my favourite pony. I love you, Silver. Just not like before. Not like you thought.”
She’s smiling, and stepping forward for a hug, and I want to embrace her and touch her and love her and say it’s fine and I’ll be the best friend she wants but it hurts,
And as we touch, Gingersnap dissolves. Evaporates. I blink, and she’s gone, and it’s just the door, there, tauntingly open so the warm light from the apartment above casts a twisted, inviting glow onto the stairwell—
“Be at ease, Silver Star,” a voice says behind me. “This is but a dream, and I am here.”
As I turn around, a hoof falls on my shoulder and instantly I know everything I need to. I’m sleeping. This was a nightmare. That wasn’t Gingersnap. Selene is here. And indeed, as I blink again the dark studio dissolves as well and I find myself face to face with the Princess of the Night, who gives a little smile.
The horrible feeling, the pain, melts away to be replaced with a torrent of relief. At least, most of it does. There is still a pit of anxiety, there deep in my chest, but now that I’m safe from the apparition it’s supremely easy to ignore. “Thank you, Princess,” I say with what’s almost a voice crack. “Thank you.”
“You are very, very welcome.” Selene takes her hoof from my shoulder and her horn glows. The formless black void around us materialises into a night sky, and a valley, and mountains on all sides. I see my sleeping form, there on the grass, deceptively peaceful. Gingersnap is sitting upright, but pressed close into my body as I sleep all the same.
I smile, and feel like crying.
“You know this was truly naught but a fantasy, don’t you?” Selene looks down at me, kindly but searchingly.
“I… of course. I know that. We’re soulmates.”
Selene nods and looks at us, me sleeping gormlessly and Gingersnap staring up at the sky beside me. “I can see that.”
“We’re here for your sky,” I say, swallowing and feeling a little stupid. “It’s… so different to the sky back on Earth. Here, I feel like we could stare into it forever and keep seeing new little details. It’s… beautiful.”
“Well, thank you, Silver,” Selene says with a twinkle in her eye. “I can’t pretend to be fully responsible, but… your reverence is noted all the same.” She nods at the mountaintops. “You’ve chosen a wonderful spot.”
“Princess, do you ever worry about eternity?”
She looks back at me. There’s a long pause before she speaks. “No. I do not.” I open my mouth, but she continues. “I have lived a long time, Silver Star, though it may be only an infinitesimal fraction of what lies before us all. In all this time I have learned that change may surprise you, and might even cause you strife, but—” here she nods to the pair of us, there in the valley, “the things that matter endure. Love endures. Time cannot take it away from you, and ponies who form that bond, that ‘mating of souls’ as you put it, will never break each other’s hearts. This, I truly believe.”
There’s silence as I take this in. “I’ve never been scared of change,” I say. “I just can’t believe that I get to have this life forever. It’s too good to be true.”
Selene gives a small laugh. “That’s a very human expression. Here in Equestria, nothing is too good to be true.”
I sigh and blink as I take in Gingersnap sitting there beside me, and this time it’s almost a happy sigh. “Thank you, Princess. I’m okay now.”
“Indeed,” Selene says with a smile. “Then I will leave you, now.”
“Can you wake me up?” I say it quickly.
“Of course,” Selene says with a wink.
Then, as the princess’ horn glows and she disappears in a flash, it all dissolves once again.
I feel her start a little and look down at me, surprised that I’m awake. “Yeah?”
“You like living with me, right?”
This time she does laugh. “‘Course I do. It’s just like living on my own, except you cook sometimes and I get to cuddle you. What’s not to like?”
I put out a foreleg and drag her to the ground beside me. She gives an amused hum and rolls into me, curling up a little so I can wrap my legs around her.
She snorts. “Yeah, Silver, I promise. What brought this on?”
“Just a dream. I’m still a little scared about forever.” When I say it, I know, I know that Snaps is rolling her eyes. I can sense it. “Or, I was. I think I’m over it now.”
“Just like that, eh.”
“Oh, shut up.”
She giggles again. “Don’t take that tone.” Snaps rolls over, then, to face me with a tiny grin. “Are you gonna tell me what the dream was about?”
“You didn’t wanna live with me any more. It broke my heart.”
“Is your heart that fragile?”
I snort. “All hearts are fragile.”
“Sorry,” she says quickly, “I didn’t think before I said that.”
“It’s fine; I know what you meant. But yeah. You could shatter my heart with a feather, if it were one of your feathers.”
“Well I won’t.” She puts a hoof on my cheek and holds it there, looking into my eyes. “I won’t. Do you understand? I promise. I promise forever.” She pulls herself closer to me and closes her eyes, pressing her muzzle into my shoulder. “Forever,” she murmurs again.
My heart fills with so much love I almost moan. I definitely shed a few tears, and take a deep, juddering breath in. Her scent fills me and banishes the last shred of anxiety within me. All I can feel is love, love for this mare whom I was created to satisfy, filling me to the ends of my limbs and making my heart resonate with the sound of her voice in my head.
The camera clicks another frame. We pay it no mind. We just breathe, there, together in the shadow of the enchanted mountains. The horizons are beginning to betray the first signs of twilight, and we somehow move even closer in together as the mists begin to gather there in the valley.
That’s where the light finds us, hours later, as we simply continue to hold each other and the sun rises on another day of eternity.